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My wife and I want to sell our home (no debt or mortgage) and buy a piece of land where we can build a larger home. Our end goal is to come out mortgage free or with very minimal debt. We have 3 options: 1) Sell our home now, rent while we use cash to buy land and build. 2) Buy land now, then pay off land, sell the home later and build with cash. 3) Buy land now, get a construction loan, build, then sell the house and pay off the loan. Option 3 does not involve a double move. I should probably mention that we have 6 children.
Dear Growing Family,
I like knowing that you are thinking through your options. Many people do not consider how a move involves stress, and how that affects the entire family. Due to your family’s size, you have a little more pressure to make the right decision.
There are a few questions that I would like to see answered.
● How marketable is your current home at the price you need?
● How many months could you carry the notes to buy the land or buy the land and build the larger home without selling your house and not be under financial stress?
● Do you have a good option for an interim place to live? Moving a large family can be challenging. Are there friends or family members who might host you in exchange for some kind of labor?
● Have you calculated the cost of a rental and the expense of a double move?
Since I don’t know the answers to some key factors in your decision, let me summarize my advice by pointing out that all of the options involve stress and each one has different levels of risk. Let’s look at these factors to help you make a decision.
● Option 1: Sell now, buy land and build with cash. This stress involves the logistics of renting a place for a family of 8 and the cost of a double move. Your financial risk is the lowest with this option.
● Option 2: Buy land now, sell home later, and build with cash after the land is paid for. This involves financial risk of the loan to buy the land now and double move stress.
● Option 3: Buy land and build using a loan then sell existing house and pay off loans. This is greater financial risk but lowers your stress by eliminating the double move.
Conservatively, Option 1 is the least risky financial choice. You would have to determine if it is the most stressful to you and your family. Option 2 is a hybrid which might minimize some of the time and stress of Option 1, but you have to borrow money. Option 3 seems to put all the stress on you and your finances, while eliminating family stress.
I prefer Option 1, depending on the dynamics of your family and everyone’s ability to live in a basement or rental for a period of time. Lean heavily on your wife’s counsel and be willing to do Options 2 or 3 if she feels best about those. Loans can be helpful as long as you manage them very carefully.
If you go with Option 3 and cannot sell, perhaps you could find a renter for the house for a period of time. That’s probably a worst-case scenario.
I recommend you get advice from several realtors regarding the value and marketability of your present home and advice on where to buy land. Build in an area where your home will appreciate and bring joy to your family.
Get More Counsel
While I am grateful that you asked for my advice, this is no small decision for you and your family. It is likely one of the biggest decisions you will make for many years. You need more counsel. Here are the sources to go to before you make your final decision.
Seek Counsel from God
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” (Proverbs 2:6-8 ESV)
Seek Counsel from Man
Seek the counsel of Christians you trust, parents, and siblings. I still take big financial decisions to my Dad and get advice from my brother before I take action. Fast and pray with your wife. Don’t move forward until you have peace and unity with her.
“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14 ESV)
“A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in an abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 24:5-6 ESV)
Pray and Trust God
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
My hope is that you and your family will be able to make the move to the larger home, avoid any debt and enjoy the entire process! Let me know what you decide and send pictures of your big family to us at Crown!
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, the largest Christian financial ministry in the world, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Money Problems, Marriage Solutions. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.